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181 – Living In Adoptionland

Bryan Elliott, writer, director, producer, grew up in Southern California feeling under prioritized by his adoptive mother. At an early age, he had ambitions of finding his birth family. After extensive research Bryan called a long list of women only to realize she was among those who had repeatedly told him, “sorry, it’s not me.” when he called.

Maternal secondary rejection was solidified with the threat of legal action, but later legal correspondence clarified his birth father’s identity in the search for a man Bryan had searched for for decades. It took some coaxing, but Bryan was finally granted full access to his paternal family.

This is Bryan’s journey


Andre: 00:02 You go up to the judge, she has my case. She opens this Manila folder and I was like, there it is, like I’m this close. So then she proceeds to go through and she says that, you know, I have information here but you can’t have it.

Voices: 00:23 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon: 00:34 This is Who Am I Really? A podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. Hey, it’s Damon and on today’s show I was lucky to be joined by my old friend Andre. We’ve known one another for more than 25 years, going back to high school and at that time as young men, we both discovered that the other was adopted too and we were instantly connected. In our conversation, you’ll hear some of that old school brotherly love, but you’ll also hear some really poignant moments when the fact that he’s an adoptee was revealed to his brother and the difficult news he learned about how he came into the world.

Damon: 01:21 First, Andre, I want to welcome you to the show. Thanks for coming.

Andre: 01:23 Thank you for having me, Damon.

Damon: 01:24 So glad you could do it. So tell me a little bit about your family growing up. Just start from the beginning as a young guy, tell me a little bit about you.

Andre: 01:34 I grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts. Great parents, father was retired military. Um, mom was an HR salesman for digital equipment corporation. I have a younger brother, three years younger.

Damon: 01:47 What’s his name?

Andre: 01:47 Jason. Jason is his name. We had a great life. I had no idea that my story would unfold the way it did growing up with such great parents.

Damon: 01:59 Yeah. You and Jason were close?

Andre: 02:01 Very close.

Damon: 02:02 And is Jason adopted also?

Andre: 02:04 He is not, he’s my parents’ biological child.

Damon: 02:06 So he’s biological and you’re adopted. And how was that?

Andre: 02:10 We didn’t know. I didn’t know that my mom couldn’t have, uh, she had a bunch of miscarriages, um, that they had tried and tried and tried. So they went the adoption route. So, but I didn’t find that story out until way later with aunts and family members and it actually kind of just came out yeah. Just came out that, hey, you know, yeah. Ruby couldn’t have kids.

Damon: 02:33 So, so to be clear you’re the oldest?

Andre: 02:36 I’m the oldest and Jason’s younger than me.

Damon: 02:39 Gotcha. And that was okay. Like did he know? When did he? So you found out?

Andre: 02:44 I found out that I was adopted, This is weird, I found out that I was adopted when I was two and some change. They were, pregnant with Jason. And I remember them sitting me down. It’s really weird how you go back and you find these memories, but I remember that so vividly.

Andre: 03:01 I remember the little Pajama set that I was wearing and the whole nine and they sat me down and they were like, hey, you know, mom’s pregnant and we’re going to have, you’re going to have a sibling, but we’ll want to let you know that you’re ours but you’re not ours. We got you a different way. And they proceeded to explain it to me, but it all stopped when they said that I’m theirs, but they got me a different way.

Damon: 03:27 Did they explain that at all? I mean, you’re pretty young.

Andre: 03:29 So they explained it and it just, it didn’t hit me, it didn’t hit me until later. So Jason was born and I remember, I remember before that my birthdays, they were mine and then Jason was born. It was my birth. He was born in July. My birthday’s in August. I remember everyone just, Oh, the baby, the baby, the baby.

Andre: 03:51 But it was my birthday. Uh, so to get the attention back on me, I remember going in and putting my hand on the stove, on the little coils and I straight burnt myself, you know, attention came back to me, but you know, it was just, it was the weirdest thing and I’ve always had that, you know, he’s, theirs and, you know, as I got older I kind of just buried it. I just buried it.

Damon: 04:19 Yeah I can imaging that. Did you? So you and Jason got along fine?

Andre: 04:21 We got along fine, we got along fine.

New Speaker: 04:24 Um, but it was always in the back of your mind, it sounds like back to my mind. But Jason didn’t know. He didn’t know that I was adopted. And so when did he find out? He found out that I was adopted when he was four? No, I was 15. That would’ve been 87.

Andre: 04:44 Uh, we moved from Massachusetts to Columbia. My Dad got a job transfer cause my mom got him a job with digital when he retired from the military. And that job brought us here to Maryland. And, and the crazy thing is, is that that’s previous summer we were in Mississippi with my dad’s father and my grandfather, I, well I’m a big guy and my family’s really, really lean, really lean. So my grandfather, someone had said something to my grandfather in church and he said, yeah, that’s the boy who was adopted. And my brother overheard that. Oh, he heard accidentally heard accidentally. So the whole way home and the ride, I convinced him that grandpa was crazy. That grandpa was crazy. So tried to dismiss it. I did. I absolutely did. So we got home and I pretty much squashed it with Jason and he was like, okay, you’re right.

Andre: 05:37 Grandpas, you know crazy. So I told my mom and dad and they said, hey, it’s up to you when you want to tell them. I said, I’m just not ready. I’m just not, he looks up to me so much, I’m just not ready for him to be part of that. What’s the age difference where you guys, three years? I see three years, so I’m like, I’m just not ready for that. So when we moved here, I decided it was new year’s Eve. We were staying at the greenbelt. Merriot literally right across from my dad was going to work his new job. And I decided that since we’re here, new beginnings, let’s start fresh. So we sat him down and told them, wow, as a family, as a family. And it was the biggest mistake. Really. Why’s better off telling them the day that Grandpa, cause now I lie to them.

Andre: 06:24 Uh, yeah. That’s interesting. Now I lie to them. The truth early can go with it. Yep. And I’ve heard that with many adoptees, so it just stuck with me and I was like, I should have told them. Yeah. That day, that summer, we just should have just told them. Fascinating. Yeah. It was just, it was ugly, but we got to get over those things as a family and as a family. And you know, our relationship, it’s okay over the years. Yeah. But I’ll never forget that. I mean, just to hear it like the spite. Yeah. In his voice, it kind of, it hurt cause he always looked, always looked up. He always look up to big brother. Yeah. And he was always there to protect him, always, even when we were kids. But just to hear that, like, I can make my own way with that. My big brother who’s really not my big brother, but it, my big brother, it hurt. Yeah. It was a kicking the teeth. So you now fast forward,

Speaker 4: 07:19 you and I have found each other. Yes. Wild Lake, high school. Columbia, Maryland. I graduated in what, 1999 90. That’s a long time. And I remember one of the things that we ended up bonding over was the fact that we were both adopted. Yes. But I was pretty open about it. Absolutely. And where were you?

Andre: 07:37 Uh, no one knew. Yeah. No one knew. And why is that? I never wanted, and I was, I don’t want to say popular, but I was in with the crowds if you can in elegant [inaudible]. Yeah, no, you know, so I didn’t want that. Yeah. Kids can be really mean. And when you’ve got a personal seatbelt like that, man, and I buried it. I didn’t tell best friends. I had a close, close gym teacher who I’m still close to this day. Who Knew? Yeah. And that was it. And when she found out, my parents told her I was hot, real, oh, I was hot to elementary school. I was hot.

Speaker 4: 08:15 But you know, I can remember, I vaguely remember if anybody who knows me well knows my memory is horrible. But, uh, I can vaguely remember the day that I said something about being adopted and he just came right out. Yep. You’re like, I’m adopted.

Andre: 08:28 Yup. Everyone that I had seen that had been adopted, you know, their stories were so, it was Asian people or white people adopting a, you know, it was always, it wasn’t instantly shows, always interracial. It was never black families adopting black children. That was so the listeners were both African-American. It was unheard of. You know, it was, people think adopted and what do they think of at that time? They think of like different strokes. Yeah, right, right, right. Was, you know, yeah, that was what was on TV until like for a lot of people it’s a fair point. So when you said it and I was like, Whoa, that’s um, I am too. Like it was just so freeing of the soul to have the bond with someone who you look like and that they have two parents, you know? It was just, it was amazing and it was like the biggest relief off my tests.

Andre: 09:20 That’s cool. Yeah. So tell me a little bit about your eventual desire to search for biological family members. Was it always there because of the more tumultuous beginning that you had in your mind of being adopted? Or was it something that you picked up over time of curiosity? A lot of times I find when I talk to adoptees, they have this moment. Some of it is for, for me, when my biological son was born, you know, I looked down at this dude, I was like, oh my God, you’re the first biological relative I had ever known and I made you right. We created you out of love. This is spectacular. That was one of the really defining moments for me. What kinds of things went through your mind at me? That was my epiphany was when I had my daughter, she was born in 2000 and when I had her and I was like, oh man.

Andre: 10:09 Like I could look at her and I could, I could see my cheeks, my eyes, everything, my daughter’s shoes. My daughter is a spitting image of me. And it just was like, wow. But I still didn’t do it. I thought about it, I really thought about it. I talked to my whack about it and my wife was the first girlfriend that I talk to about no real relationship, reorder it, talked about it when we were dating and you know, and then I, and I’ve said, you know what, if we had to adopt, would you be okay with that? She’s like, absolutely. And I was like, okay, well, so fast forward to 2003 I have my son and now I have two people who look like me. And then the wheels start to turn. But I don’t know if I want to head down that road.

Andre: 10:59 Why? Because you’d never know the circumstances in which you were given up in a, you know, and also it was also, I felt like it was a, I didn’t want to dig my parents. Yeah. I little protective as I, my parents gave me a great, a great life. I didn’t want for anything. Yeah. So to have those people who were there for your bumps or bruises and your games and your highs and your lows, like, yeah. Now you’re going to turn around and have this exhaustive search for this person who gave you up, but that person also has a story. Yeah, that’s right. You wouldn’t be in existence where out episode or person. Absolutely. I had the same feelings too. There was a, there was a, I always think of it as, I have two great parents. You have, why do I need a third?

Andre: 11:47 Why do I need a third? Right? So I’m totally with you on that. Um, what, what were this, what steps did you take? Like you finally come to the conclusion. Conclusion. It was a 2005. I decided I was 33. I decided that, you know what, I’m going to do this. And I talked to my wife really hard about it, so she was like, well, you know, you gotta talk to your mom and dad. And I had to have that conversation with my, with my, uh, adoptive parents. And I said, hey, look, you know, we’d like to look through like, okay, we told you this when you were younger. That’s your journey. It’s where if you want, you know, whatever you need from us. So I said, you know, what was the agency? And he said, I got to start from square one. So they gave me the adoption agency.

Andre: 12:35 So I held that for like a month. I just, you know, my wife was like, what are you gonna do? Sit on it. And was like, Yep, it’s completely content with just sitting on it. She was like, you can’t do that. You, you made that step, you know, I think you’re right. So then I called them, I called a, I think it was children’s DSS in Boston foster care. I actually was in foster care for a hot second. I was in foster care for, I wanna say four or five months. So I decided to make a call in to talk to DSS and they said that that agency is no longer in existence. So they actually, uh, put me with a social worker. Her name is Sheila Franco. I talked to Sheila and I told her, you know, what I wanted to do and how, you know, what do I need to do?

Andre: 13:20 What are the steps? And she was like, yes, well, you know, you need to petition the courts. [inaudible] you were born in Massachusetts, you know the years that you were born, those adoption records are sealed for a hundred years, a hundred years, a hundred years. Cause they don’t want to think it now. They don’t want, you know, that was, that’s there’s parental protection of their identity. Absolutely. There’s your own protection actually as you bonded with your adopted parents. Right. So they do it to protect everybody. You know, they never think that when you put a child up for adoption that they’re going to want to seek. And this is Pandora’s box. And you know, it’s a funny thing too, just thinking about the timing of that. I mean, a hundred years. Yes. That’s ridiculous. That’s longer than most people live. I have to live basically saying in your, you’ll never, you’ll never, never, never, ever, ever.

Andre: 14:06 It’s amazing. Yeah. So we, we partitioned the courts made a date. It was 2006 and it was St Patrick’s Day. My wife and I were living in Baltimore. We wound up going up to Massachusetts. Staying with a friend, one of my childhood friends who didn’t know I was adopted. Oh, really? Didn’t had no clue. And I told them, he was like, are you kidding me? Like oh yeah. Had no clue. So it was like this whole big like, and we just reconnected after 20 years. So, and here I am, you know, growing up with this guy and I’m coming back 20 years later and now I’m telling you that I’m trying to look for my biological. He’s like, oh my gosh, he nuts. I’ve known you this, I know you’re ain’t learning this now. So we drive into Boston St Patrick’s day and we didn’t realize it was St Patrick’s Day.

Andre: 14:55 And the judge who actually had my case had gone for the day. Uh, so I go into the register and she’s like, you know, that judge has gone. And I said, if I don’t do this now, I’m never gonna do it again. So she’s made a trip. I made a traer to living in Maryland, Maryland, Massachusetts, Med tripped Massachusetts, I need to do this. I need to do this. So they said, you can talk with his, you know, his assistant, his secretary assistant. And I said, okay. So I went in and I talked to her and I’ve got the gift of Gab. Yeah you do. I got the gifted gap. So I started surveying everything that this woman had on in her cubby and it was nothing but German shepherds. So I said, that’s my end. So I started talking about how much she loves her dogs and how I had a German shepherd, which I did when I was younger, but I don’t remember, it was my dad’s dog because you were making it up.

Andre: 15:44 I wasn’t making enough on [inaudible]. I was making a black fly and so I gave her stuff story and we bonded. She was like, let me see what I can do. Awesome. So she winds up getting me another appointment hour later with another judge, a female judge, and I was so thankful for. So our hour comes, we go up to the judge, she has my case, she opens this Manila folder and I’m like, there it is. It’s like pulp fiction. She opened up, I could see the gold on her face, like jewels, opening the briefcase. That’s, that’s my information. All my stuff. That’s how I felt. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. And I was like, there it is. Like I’m this close. So then she proceeds to go through and tell me the a hundred years, the whole nine, and she says that, you know, I have information here but you can’t have it. She shut the case.

Andre: 16:36 No more gold during the golden light. That’s it. Absolutely. Why couldn’t you have it? Because they wanted you to go through. There was this huge process and now I petitioned it. They wanted me, I had it now I had to have someone from their court go in and do the leg work to help me get the hurdles. But then I had the legal process, right, that paint investigator, all this. It was, it was a money scheme, but before I went up, my social worker, Sheila Frankl was like, look, she pretty much laid out what was going to happen. She was like, they’re going to do this, they’re going to do this and they’re going to do this. And I said No. She was like, trust me, I’ve been doing this a long time. What you want to do is tell them that you have a guardian, there’s a called a guardian of light and that you have someone who will work your case for you.

Andre: 17:31 I said what she’s saying she was that person. Yes. Like I’ll do it for you. Oh that’s all. I was like, really? She was like, yes. So I actually take the judge off because I made her sign a document that they were going to release it to whom I wanted them to release it to and the judge, she didn’t needs, I didn’t need the signature but I was like look judge on a meeting just for some. Right. But I would love for you to sign anything that you could so I can find out. You know who I am. And I gave her all, you know, she, cause he made me this big Spiel, why do you want to find out, you know this information and pretty much I said, well I told you and you not have to. Having my kids, you know, you can look into someone’s eyes and you know who you look like cause I don’t have that.

Andre: 18:15 I look into my kid’s eyes and I see myself, but I can’t look into someone else’s eyes and see myself totally different. So she signed off and uh, I got home and I called, I called shale and she was like, okay, write me a letter, write me a letter. So what does the letter supposed to say? The letter was pretty much my letter to my birth mother. Okay. With a picture? Yeah, a letter to my birth mother. And I sent a picture of myself and Mike and my kids and I, and I, and I wrote the letter and I actually have my wife helped me write the letter cause it was, it was, it was still hard that I’m, I’m chopping away this huge, huge iceberg, but it’s so big. What do you say? [inaudible] you say to somebody? Yeah. But you know who gave birth to, gave birth to you.

Andre: 19:01 You’ve never met, ever met. You’re now 30 something years old. There are so many stories you could potentially tell stories, but you just have to pick. Don’t remember. I don’t remember what we said, but it was basic. It was basic. And that was a, so that was Saint Patty’s day I wrote the letter. Gosh, it took me forever to write the letter to the point where Sheila was like, hey look, if you don’t write this letter, I’m done. You know we’ve been in this process for a minute now. How long? Roughly? 2005 2000 like a year. So you are, you had the option to write the introductory letter. Well had ops right? You will. Yeah. It took me three months to write the letter. It took me three months. But you didn’t send it to Sheila? No. It took you a long time. Yeah. You hold onto that stuff, right?

Andre: 19:49 Yeah. Cause that’s literally potentially the key. That’s the key to whatever Pandora’s box. Hold it. So march, April, May, I sent the letter in May Day after father’s Day. That year. So if that June, that June my wife calls me frantic. Yeah. And says, Shayla was trying to get a hold of you and she’s called all your numbers. And I said, well, I’m going to serve a room. My phones don’t, aren’t come on and get anything. She was like color. I was like, what? She’s like just call it. She won’t tell me anything. So your case color. Right. So I called her and I said she’ll Scott Andre, Andre, Andre. I have great news. I found her. That’s amazing. My heart, my ears started to radio like my hands got sweaty. I said you found she’s like a founder? I found her. Yeah. And uh, she called me like cheeks.

Andre: 20:43 I sent her the letter, she read the letter, I had my information. She contacted me. Yeah. And I have her number for you to call her. Wow. So I was like, wow, you have her number. She’s like, I have I ever home number. That’s a huge moment, man. It’s really crazy. So I got home from work that night and I talked to her and we talked for like four hours. Four it was crazy. Yeah. Four hours of just back and forth and back and forth. She told me, she told me my name. I didn’t realize that you have to name the name of child. So my, my birth name was Craig Leon. Craig. Craig Leon. Yes. First, first name, middle name, middle name, Craig Leon. And um, she said that there was a, an Olympic swimmer in the Olympics. His name was Craig and she said, I can remember that.

Andre: 21:38 Yeah. I can’t remember. Well, yeah, one of the first questions out of my mouth was, is my birthday really? August 31st Oh really? Oh yeah. Did you have a reason to question it or it was just solutely well, most kids who were adopted pending on the circumstances, their birth date is the day that they’re adopted. They keep the year, but their birthday is a day that their diversity. So I would have hated for 30 now 34 years to have celebrated. They’ve August 31st all of a sudden your [inaudible] this, you know, first or September 3rd I was like, what? She’s like, no. Yeah, August 31st Oh huh. 72 that told me the time, you know, and she started asking all these questions, so she was like, so you’re a real, real fair skin. Right. And I was like, no. She’s like, and I was like, no. She’s like, wow, you’re so fair. Skin when you were born.

Andre: 22:32 So all these questions. And so that was, you know, the Monday after father’s Day, 2006 and, uh, I had an opportunity to move with work anywhere because my company was a overseas, so I decided to move to Massachusetts to see if we can foster a relationship. Wow. So no seven we moved up to a western Massachusetts to see if he could foster relationship. That’s amazing. Yeah. Take me back to the conversation for a minute though, before you go. Yeah. What, what other kinds of things were you curious about? What did she ask about you? What my parents, yeah. Yep. She asks about my parents and you know, not that they weren’t, they, she knew they were good people, but just my upbringing, you know, did I go to church? You know, you know, schooling. Yeah. You know, she was searching for the signature searching. She had made the right decision.

Andre: 23:21 Absolutely. Yeah. So with schooling, you know, so wherever you lived, you know, I know that I know a family, they contacted me cause I had to sign the paperwork so I know a family was in contact to, to receive you. Okay. You know, but they didn’t tell me, you know, it was just a young, a young couple. Right. So I found out, you know, that I had all the questions, why, you know, she got pregnant at 16 [inaudible] she tried to hide it [inaudible] it just wasn’t gonna work. And then people started finding out, she was like, yeah, do you like, you know, you don’t have to have this baby. She’s like, yeah I do. She’s like, I do. And I said, was it hard? She was like, hardest thing you’ve ever done? Really? Wow. She’s like, yeah, but did she tell you why she felt what she had to have the baby due to the certain circumstances?

Andre: 24:09 Do the circumstances of the pregnancy, you know, grown up, you think like you were giving up for a reason and then you never know what that reason is. And I always think of the worst, you know, in my head it was the worst case scenario. I’m like, I’m a product of incest or you know, you just think of the worst. And it was, and it wasn’t incest, but it was right. You were the product of erotic rate. So it was like wow. Now to me it’s like the attorney that, but she was like, you know, do to do the circumstances that I felt like I had to have even give you a shot in life. So that’s huge. Yeah. Huge. Wow. Did she tell you that circumstance in the first conversation that [inaudible] that circumstances that I probably didn’t find out. I found out a year later after you had, after we got back and we have visited and yeah, he, she became comfortable with chatting more openly.

Andre: 25:07 It’s a really big thing thing. You don’t drop that, you know, fuck that over the phone. Absolutely. So take me there. You’re at, are you at her house? Take me to the first meeting. Let’s get to how you’re selling it. Um, so we’re going up to visit in, I want to say it was the fall and my, I want to picking up, I have two sisters. Um, I want to picking up the oldest girl who’s technically now the middle girl from college, from Becker College. So I met her first. So I picked her up from her dorm and we drove into Boston and it was, you know, opened the door and mom just hugged me. Yeah, mom just hugged me. It was, it was crazy. And then she’d hug my wife and then you became inn and you know, we were like monkeys. Why do you say that?

Andre: 25:51 Because you know, I have, I’ve had braces and I have a gap and I hated my gap years and I actually had my teeth bonded so my gap is no longer there. That’s a family trait. Is it really? Absolutely. Many of the people in your family have all happened. My baby sister, absolutely two big birthmarks. Everyone’s got like this huge birthmark and a just matter where it is, but it’s the same shape, same types of coloration. So uh, you know, we were looking at each other and you know, we’re looking like, so who’s got, who’s got Bunyan’s, who’s got this big birth where he’s got the gap too. Right. Got The lady. I mean it was just as all picket Eddie Taylor. Absolutely. It was, it was for my wife’s like, oh my gosh. But yeah, you know, think about it, you know, the baby that you gave up that you held, you know, for a couple of days, two days now is back pretty often.

Andre: 26:44    You’re in your arms again. Yeah. So there was a lot of catching up. Yeah. You put your eyes on him and you got to, she told me the story later too, that she would make a cake every year in cold at the end of summer cake. [inaudible] Huh. For the girls because my birthday is August 31st in school usually starts, you know, after Labor Day. So she would always have the end of summer cake. The girls are like, why are we having this? What’s up with the end of some of the cake? Well, that was my birthday cake for years. That’s how she would remember me making a birthday cake. And I get choked up every time I say it. Yeah. Okay. But it’s deep. The thing that someone does that, you know, just to keep that memory of the child that they gave up. Yeah. It’s deep. Yeah. Real deep. There’s a lot to decision Oh yeah.

Andre: 27:33 To see your pregnancy through, to provide a child. Yeah. An opportunity to live, to thrive. To find other parents. Yep. Yeah. And it was amazing. Yeah. I think about it and that, you know, and I, and I talk to her, we talk often and she’s an absolute nut. Um, and it’s more, it’s, it’s not, it’s more of a, an older having an older friend relationship than it is a parent rush, high old relationship. Yeah. I see that. It’s, you know, we talk about everything and you know, just there’s no, the language is crude. It’s crass. It’s, it’s

Speaker 4: 28:16 because you’re both old enough, old enough. Do you know who you are? [inaudible] you leave that point where you can pretty much say anything. You’ve got to take it or leave it. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Andre:                         28:31 Sometimes I’ll say the s word around my dad about two days earlier. Third, he was like, you know, even though I’m growing kid’s house mortgage, it’s still, Hey, you know? Yeah, yeah, we’ll go back, man. Right, right, right, right. But now it’s, you know, with, with my birth mother, it’s like, okay, just whatever comes out comes out and there’s no animosity either way. Yeah. It’s just, hey, this is what it is. That’s amazing ground. You touched on something really interesting too there, the fact that while she’s your biological mother, she didn’t actually do the parenting piece. Absolutely. And that’s, that was her choice based on circumstance. But it’s really a nice distinction there between your adopted parents who were there

Speaker 4: 29:12 looper every game and every fall, every hug and every tuck in and goodnight and all of that stuff. That’s the parenting. Yeah.

Andre: 29:18 Peace in the biological parents were lucky to find them and we’re lucky to forge a bond, but it can be incredibly challenging to to reach back. You want to tell them about every game and about every fall and you just can’t recover your [inaudible] history with them. So you just have to start from where you are now. You do have to start from where you are now. Yeah. But that’s funny that you said that because you know I, my mom’s the baby of four so I have two aunts and an uncle. Both my grandparents are deceased.

Andre: 29:49 It was, it was very touching that I reconnected with my family members, my uncle who they say or look exactly like, oh he hasn’t had any children. My one aunt doesn’t have any children, but the oldest has two and there’s always family drama and you’ve never been in it. You know, my mother’s, like I said, the baby for all this history in all this drama that everyone now wanted to bring me up to speed cause I’m talking to my, my oldest son, I’m talking to the second, the second night and we were talking on a consistent basis, but what I got was they were telling me things that I didn’t necessarily need to know. Almost like they were defending their position in case somebody came up later in an inquiry. Yeah, right. [inaudible] for a while. I told my mom, I said, you know, I just have to cut the family off. She was like, really? I said, absolutely. Take a step back. I did and it was, it was a good long, six to eight months. They talked to anybody [inaudible] I had, it can be a lie. I had an instant family. Yes. Over a letter.

Speaker 5: 30:59 Okay.

Andre: 30:59 And I couldn’t take it [inaudible] you know, I don’t want to say I was depressed, but it was so much to take in. It was almost sensory overload. It’s life changing. It’s, it’s absolutely life changing and everyone wants pictures of your children. Everyone wants to know what you’ve done, where you’ve been. They want to compare now their allies to what now? This second child that they’ve known, they knew about and um, there’s yeah. And their flesh and blood and they, and they want to know everything about me, but yet also want to bring me up to speed on everything that they’ve accomplished and done in their lives. Yeah. I need to know that. Yeah. It’s a lot to take. It’s too much sipping from a fire hose, a family history. It’s really hard. Yeah. So, you know, I told my mom, I said, my biological mom, I said, look, you know, I’m Kinda not talk to certain people for Awhile and just take baby steps because I just can’t, I can’t live my life with my young kids and everything that I have going on in my world on top of now, everyone was trying to bring me up to speed

Speaker 4: 32:03 35 years. Yeah. Of history. Yeah. It’s too much. Yeah, you’re right. You’ve got your own family, wife, two kids job, your existing life. My existing lines literally lead at 35 years of history of other people’s lives till the top of on top of that. Yeah. It can be incredibly challenging and there’s a lot of people that do actually take that step back and there’s an evaluative process. I think that people go through, what is it that I need right now and who is it that I need to be bonded with? Is it just the biological mother or father or whomever, whomever you’ve connected with or I take in more people,

Andre: 32:40 is my heart open enough? Have I learned something that has either closed me off or letting me open up, whatever. It’s a lot to a lot to take in. I decided that I was, it was just the biological mother, you know I, that’s all that I could muster. [inaudible] not I want, I don’t want to say to deal with, that’s not the right word. Yeah. To take in the strength. The strength is drink yet in the sort of, I needed it because my, my story is I wanted to know who I came from, who I look like. That’s it. Yup. I found the cradle of civilization from me. Yeah. Right. This is where my, this is where my existence beginning. So for me it was, it all starts and ends with her. You know, if I had never found out anything about anybody else in the family and I just had her, her story, whether it was right or wrong, it would have been the holy grail for me because that’s the person who made that, that decision.

Andre: 33:41 And to me, that’s where it begins and ends with. Yeah. So I’m happy with the decision that I’ve made, cordial with family members and I’m cordial with. I mean, I’m very apt, absolutely cordial with way more than cordial. I’m in love with my family, my sisters and my mom is remarried or married. But yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about your adoptive family. How did they react when you found her and went up there? My mom, she had told her husband and uh, you know, the knock of the door came with the certified letter, you know, they’re like, hey, what does this, and she’s like, you remember I told you years ago, you know that she did break this news town, her own family and the girls when they got older. So this is your biological family, your family. When the girls got older, she had mentioned that, you know, she gave a child up for adoption, but you hear that and you don’t think anything of it, you know like, okay, yeah, that’s to measure the gravity of that.

Andre: 34:39 And then next thing you know, you have someone knocking on your door when you’re a a freshman in high school, a freshman in college in a, in a senior high school. And you have this guy who looks just like one of your uncles. Yeah. You know, me and the baby sister look cheeks, forehead gap. I mean clearly sickle. Oh my God. Clearly siblings, clearly siblings. Absolutely amazing. Let’s go to your adopted family. Yes. How does your brother, your mom and dad take everything to parent ones? Absolutely. Fantastic. With it and it was my decision. It’s apps for awhile. I was kind of taking it back. I didn’t give them as much information about, you know, I didn’t want to bring it up because I felt like it was a slap in the face. I did. I felt like, you know, I went and found this person and it’s not like we’re going on vacations, I’m not flying them, just stay with me.

Andre: 35:34 But I still felt like she wasn’t there for the other so much that I’ve gone through in my life. She wasn’t there for any of it and you were so yeah, it was hard to kind of balance that, but they were completely like, that’s you. That’s your, that’s your beginnings. So be we understand that. Yeah. We completely understand that. So however much you want to give us, and if you don’t want to give us any at all, it’s completely up to you. That’s great. They gave you the space to get out and [inaudible] from when you were a child that we have, you know, you can do that to talk to you. And I was like, oh, I don’t know if I want to do that because then I feel like I’m on the other end with my adoptive mom bringing, do I need to go back with her with all my hair?

Andre: 36:16 I don’t, you know, she wasn’t there for that. You know, she knew she came in when I was 35 right. We’re starting, it’s like, Hey, I’m Andre, nice to meet you and you are, and that’s where I’ve kind of, you know, we’ve talked about a little couple things in my childhood, you know, big events, but we’ve pretty much started from the time that we met. That’s great. And I haven’t gone back, even though I was given that opportunity with my, my doctor parents to give her that information, I just didn’t think I needed to. So it’s definitely online. Let me ask you about, there’s an interesting component here of your biological mother’s family. Donna [inaudible].

Speaker 4: 36:59 She had kids, yes. In her family. Yes. Before you quote unquote

Andre: 37:04 showed up, came home, there was a child who was the oldest before you showed up. And as you’ve said, that person is now the middle child. How was that for her? Do you know? It didn’t. It didn’t, didn’t affect her at all because I’m not, I’m not there. It’s different. She was a freshman in college, you know, I’m kind of like, yes, I’m a big brother. You know? And it is just nothing but love. But it’s more of again, that friend. Yeah. Close, close friend. It’s not like now I can say, Hey, I wasn’t there when you fell off your bike. I didn’t, I didn’t show you how to catch a frog. Right. I was never there for any of those moments for you. Right. But you know, being 18 you know, I can be there for you from that point on. And we have it along those lines. I think it’s probably also important to think through, there’s a significant difference between the mind of a child who

Speaker 4: 38:05 is the older sister to someone younger than her. Right. And her mind is not quite able to wrap itself around. The idea that another kid is coming in is going to present themselves as now the oldest, the oldest. You’re now, you know, 1819 you’re in college, you’re of the age and the mental maturity to be able to say, I understand that there’d be more than they are, may be more to my family’s history than what I was previously aware of and this person has come. And that’s part of that

Andre: 38:35 story as part of the story. It’s good that some people are able to, you know, have a healthy, healthy outlook on that and not everybody can know, but I didn’t come in as, hey, you know, I’m back, you know? Right, right, right, right. [inaudible] over right. No, there was none of that. It was, hey, you know, I would love to be part of the family in any capacity. You know, you don’t even have to call me brother, you know, just, I just want to be part of the family in any way, shape or form. So looking back, this was quite a journey. Absolutely. What would you do differently anywhere along the way? I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I thought when I was younger I had, I had thoughts when I was in high school of finding my birth mother. Just fleeting moments. Yeah. You know? Yeah. More of, you know, I got mad at my mom and dad for something maybe grounding me or something like that. Maybe, you know, let me tell my brother, mother. Yeah, yeah. I absolutely wouldn’t have the relationship that I have now after having kids and being a parent and knowing what being a parent truly is.

Andre: 39:41 Then if I would’ve found her at 19 then finding her 33 30 75 it might have intruded in a different anyway. It wouldn’t being receptive received well received. It wouldn’t be, it wouldn’t be pure to me cause I think I would have done it out of spite and I wouldn’t know. I don’t, I’ve met the maturity level. Yeah. Maybe so many things that I still, some hurdles I still had to jump through as a, as a person, as a man, as a husband, as a father that only only can, you know, going through, you’re going through her pregnancy with your wife. That whole beauty of bringing a child into this world. Now. You know what, that’s about. I that could have done that at 19 I couldn’t have done that look for somebody, you know, it would’ve been like, well, you abandoned me, you left me, you, you know.

Andre: 40:33 Yeah. There would be more emotional from a teen sort of raging hormones. Exactly. Poorly developed brain state than the place that you are as a 33 year old male who has established himself and gotten his mind right and has now made the decision to seek. And then the realized family members realized that she was young. And the think that, you know, here is when I was 19 and thinking like I could look for her and she gave me up when she was 16 having been a parent and going through childbirth and my wife and having kids, seeing that now, what she had to go through at that age, pretty much by herself. Family was there, you know, 72 family was there, but it was just a very, very touchy and I’m so glad I would have found anything. I’m so glad that I started my journey that at that age haven’t been mature enough to handle any situation because if I were found out what I found out at 30, the reason why she gave me up, I would have flipped.

Andre: 41:38 Yeah. 34. Well, well, yes fact that as a product of a rape, I would’ve flipped at 1919. Yes. Totally notify you that information now. Yeah. That would be hard for Tim [inaudible] who was he? What do you yeah. Right, right, right. Our relationship wouldn’t be what it is now. Yeah, I think that’s right. That’s good. So I wouldn’t have changed anything at all when I went down the right path. I think your story is phenomenal. I mean, it’s not everybody that can find out some news like that. I don’t proceed in a healthy way. You got yourself into a place where your mind was right to receive whatever news was coming and um, yours wasn’t the easiest news to take. But you know, you’re a healthy, well adjusted guy and it’s a testament to both her decision to make an adoption plan for you as much as it is a testament to your own family, raising you in love and who you are as a man.

Andre: 42:32 And you’re, you’re a phenomenal dude and I’m really, really glad that you were willing to share your story. [inaudible] anything for you. [inaudible] story, you know, and because it’s our story, every, every adopted child has a story. And then when someone says you’re adopted, you automatically just, you’re a kindred spirit with that person no matter who they are. You know, you say, Hey, I’m adopted. You’re like, what? I’m adopted in that bond. It’s a complete stranger. I know his immediate, yeah, there was a woman and a, I’m going to have her on the show soon that, uh, her name’s Laura and she and I used to see each other at work and when we bonded over being adoptees, I mean, I just hugged her every single dinosaur. Absolutely. You know, because that was just the thing that made us family, made us really neat. Yeah, it’s true. All right. Well I, I appreciate you coming, man. This has been fantastic and for the listeners, this has been, who am I really? Thanks. I’m Damon Davis. Hope you’ll tune in next time.

Speaker 3: 43:31 Hey, it’s me. I love my man dre very much and I was so honored and thankful that he shared his story on this very first show. He covered some challenging topics like how his family discussed his adoption with his brother, their biological son, facing the challenges in the legal system that prevented him from gaining access to his information in his own adoption records and something that many adoptees have justified concerns about learning the truth about how they came into the world and why they were put up for adoption. I hope you will find something in Andre’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really? This episode was edited by Sarah Fernandez. If you would like to share your story of locating and connecting to your biological family, go online to who am I really?

Who Am I Really?

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